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Democrats losing ground with Latinos, as party leaders are tripped up by ethnic stereotyping

After July gaffe by Jill Biden likening Latinos to "breakfast tacos," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made headlines on Friday for a statement about the need for migrants to "pick the crops" in Florida.

Published: October 3, 2022 4:01pm

Updated: October 3, 2022 11:16pm

With just five weeks remaining before the Nov. 8 election, a new poll shows Democrats losing ground with Latino voters.

In an NBC News/Telemundo poll, 54% of Latino voters want Democrats to maintain control of Congress in the midterms, while 33% want to see Republicans in control.  

The results show continuing erosion in the Democrats' lead among Hispanic voters in the poll in the three election cycles since 2016. Democrats led by 38 points in the 2016 election, followed by 34 points in 2018 and 26 in 2020, before seeing their lead shaved to 21 in the current cycle.

The poll was conducted Sept. 17-26 — before the latest in a series of gaffes involving Latinos by high-profile Democrats.

On Sept. 30, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stumbled into ethnic stereotyping in criticizing Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for transferring Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard. 

"You see, in Florida," said Pelosi, "some of the farmers and growers say, 'Why are you shipping these immigrants up north? We need them to pick the crops down here.'" 

The Republican National Committee Latino account released a response on Twitter.

"Nancy Pelosi thinks immigrants should be picking crops," the group wrote. "When Democrats show you their true colors, believe them."

"Democrats have failed Latinos on every front, not just the economy, that is why so many are moving to the Republican Party!" they wrote in a separate tweet.

In mid-July, Jill Biden received widespread backlash for stereotyping Latinos as "breakfast tacos." 

"The diversity of this community — as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio — is your strength," the first lady said during a speech in the South Texas city at the 2022 UnidosUS Annnual Conference.

When invoking the Bronx bodegas, Biden mispronounced the word for the small grocery stores as "bogedas."

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists responded to Biden's gaffe. 

"We are not tacos," the group said. "Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by various diasporas, cultures and food traditions. Do not reduce us to stereotypes."

She later apologized for the statement

Also in July, Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego drew criticism for accusing Tanya Contreras Wheeless, a Hispanic woman running for Congress as a Republican in Arizona's Fourth District, of not being authentically Latina because she took her husband's last name.

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